Rooney scores twice in England rout of San Marino
WEMBLEY, England (AP) -Captain Wayne Rooney scored twice as England beat an ultra-defensive San Marino 5-0 in World Cup qualifying on Friday, with a late flurry of goals against the world's joint-lowest ranked team on a frustrating night for the hosts.
By taking his England goal tally to 31, Rooney rose to fifth on the country's scoring leaderboard, overtaking Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer.
"To be in England's top five goalscorers, I'm extremely proud,'' Rooney said. "But I'm only 26 and I hope I can score a lot more.''
Rooney's Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck also scored in each half, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain completed the rout with his first England goal.
The one setback was Theo Walcott being taken to a hospital after colliding with goalkeeper Aldo Junior Simoncini early in the game.
The victory lifted England to top spot in Group H, although Roy Hodgson's side has played a game more than Montenegro and Poland, who are both three points behind.
Despite the world's fifth-highest ranked team being paired with the one joint bottom of the FIFA rankings, 84,654 packed into Wembley Stadium.
But a glut of goals looked unlikely in the first half.
"It's never easy when 10 players are parked into the penalty area ... they didn't have one strike at goal,'' Hodgson said.
England's first strike came in the third minute, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's 25-yard effort was deftly tipped over by Simoncini, offering an early sign that it wouldn't be so easy to break through San Marino's defense.
England's start was disrupted by the injury to Walcott, which led to the Arsenal winger being carried off and Aaron Lennon making his first England appearance since the 2010 World Cup.
England was in complete control, with all the action contained in the San Marino half.
The hosts' quality close to goal, though, was distinctly lacking as they lacked creativity and verve.
Rooney was presented with two openings, heading over and wide, before Gary Cahill drilled a low shot at Simoncini after doing well to bring the ball down.
As England increasingly found its route to goal blocked by the tightly-packed defense, Oxlade-Chamberlain slammed the ball high over the crossbar and Rooney charged in with a diving header that went wide.
As the clock passed 30 minutes, with Michael Carrick hitting the crossbar and Welbeck sending the follow-up against the post, the opening goal looked increasingly elusive.
Then the breakthrough came to ease nerves inside Wembley after Simoncini tripped Welbeck and Rooney scored from the penalty spot.
Welbeck doubled England's lead inside two minutes, flicking the ball into the net at the near post after the ball was cut back by Lennon.
The second half, though, started just as frustratingly as the first.
Cahill slid a shot wide on the volley from Rooney's cross after making an awkward connection, Cleverly struck wide and Baines sent a free kick over.
It took until the 70th for the third goal to come as San Marino tired, with Lennon setting up Rooney to bend the ball into the net.
Welbeck was on target again two minutes later, clipping Tom Cleverley's cross into the net at the near post, and Oxlade-Chamberlain grabbed the fifth in the 77th.